Winning In The End

Relationships appear to be a game. A game with winners and losers.

Our lives are made up of an endless web of relationships. Our interactions with and dependence upon each other are essential parts of day-to-day activities. Some relationships may be smooth and easy, some may be hard with ups and downs. Some relationships last a long time and some run their course in short order. At some point, all relationships end. It may be when we graduate or move. Perhaps it’s when we marry (or divorce), or when one party dies. Whether it’s with the barista at your favorite coffee shop, someone in your family, or a professional relationship – endings are hard. But they happen all the time. And for significant relationships, there is a slippery slope to navigate when it ends.

When the ending is staring at us, suddenly we begin keeping score. There are little mental tally marks on the ‘plus’ or ‘minus’ side. We try to determine who is winning. Why does anyone need to ‘win’ the end of a relationship? Why do we have to put a power struggle into our grief?

For some reason, society seems to be comfortable sorting out our world by winners and losers at the end of a relationship. Here’s what I’ve observed:

  • the one who begins a new (similar) relationship first is a winner
  • the one who feels the least sadness is the winner
  • the one with the most pictures of joy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is a winner
  • the one who is social and active and successful is a winner

If this is true, I don’t think I want to be the ‘winner’ at the end of a significant relationship. If it was so easy to move on to another relationship to replace the one lost, how deeply could I have been invested to begin with? How can we praise the one who feels the least sadness? Sadness over a loss should be worn like a badge in the rite of passage. We engaged in the relationship because we believed in its success and joy – we felt that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Of course we would be sad – for as long as it takes. If it’s so easy to move past ‘sad’ did we truly feel the joy that deeply? What does it say about our relationship when being able to go through our day is easy when it’s over?

Everyone moves through their lives differently. Maybe ending relationships is easy for some people. It is not for me. I’ve heard that grief and healing take at least half the time of the duration of the relationship. After a 6 month relationship, it will take 3 months to truly be over it. The end of a 20 year relationship will take 10 years before we are healed. That sounds more like me.

I can’t believe that the winner moves on easily. I can’t agree that the winner feels less. I give my heart in my relationships and that doesn’t heal quickly. Taking time to move on does not make me the loser. It makes me me.

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